Back in 2008 when I was wasting money like a sailor on weekend leave, I bought some Zimbabwe currency notes from eBay to keep as souvenirs. The nation of Zimbabwe had undergone such massive hyperinflation that they printed notes in obscene denominations to make up for the lack of purchasing power. This is compared to the Weimer Republic of Germany version of hyperinflation in 1921 in which no new currency denominations were considered and it literally would take a wheelbarrow full of cash to make the most mundane purchases. At lease Zimbabwe made it easy to carry a wallet full of money with their exponential denomination values but I digress.
The allure of the notes that I bought were that each bill was worth 100 trillion Zimbabwe dollars! For reference that is Z$100,000,000,000,000. That’s a lot of zeros. I bought ten of them and acquired a cool 1 quadrillion Z dollars! I felt like Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet all rolled into one for a fleeting second. I think I paid USD$50 for the lot. Here is a picture of my fortune below.
As far as currency goes, they were worthless but it was real life Monopoly money and I stashed it away.
I was recently talking about inflation with my kids and explaining currency and purchasing power. The discussion reminded me of my Zimbabwe fortune and I used it in my lesson with my children. A loaf of bread at my local Wegman’s cost $1.00USD and for reference I showed the kids that the quadrillion Zim dollars in front of them wouldn’t even cover it.
We then went online to research the Zim dollars further and to my astonishment they have become quite valuable as collectibles! My $50 purchase as a joke was now worth about $500. It might be the most profitable “investment” I have ever made!
I don’t know if I will sell the notes due to the quirky collectability of them. I also like being able to say I am a quadrillionaire, even if it is a stretch of the imagination.